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Society calls for more research on oil spills

More research is needed to better understand the behaviour of oil spills in water and their environmental effects, according to a report commissioned by the Royal Society of Canada.

In particular, the research should focus on the impact of spills in high-risk and poorly understood areas, such as the Arctic, the deep ocean and inland lakes and waterways, the society says. But first, a national programme of baseline monitoring is needed to develop a better understanding of the environmental and ecological characteristics of areas that might be affected by oil spills in the future.

The report, compiled by a committee led by Kenneth Lee, director of the Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, found that dozens of types of crude oil are transported in Canada, via pipeline, train and ship. But despite the different characteristics of these oils, the most important factors governing the effects of a spill are environmental and weather conditions, where the spill happens, and how long it takes to begin the cleanup, the report says.

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